As compilations go this is up there with the best. 28 tracks of the Beach Boys at the top of their form (or close to the top, anyway). And at the price this is great value. It's easy to forget just how important the Beach Boys were to the progression of popular music in the 1960s. Brian Wilson used to watch what the Beatles were doing and try to match them on the artistic level. The Beach Boys 'Pet Sounds' was born of this rivalry and Paul McCartney regarded it as one of the greatest popular-music albums ever made. It spurred the Beatles to complete 'Revolver' and then make 'Sgt Pepper'. Brian Wilson was the Beach Boys' creative genius and when he broke down they lost their leadership position. However they left a huge repertoire of major hits, many of which are captured on this compilation. Some of the most finely crafted pop-music recordings ever made are here. Pete Doggett has written a paragraph in the accompanying booklet giving a little background to each of the tracks, which makes for interesting reading.
A blistering live album, especially in mono, cut by Bo Diddley and company in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on July 5 and 6, 1963. This album contains 30-plus minutes of the best live rock & roll ever issuedd on record. Diddley and company are "on" from the get-go with a killer instrumental erroneously credited as Chuck Berry's "Memphis" (which it isn't), that's a showcase for Diddley's attack on his instrument and a crunching assault by the rest of the band (all in that shave-and-a-haircut-two-bits beat), cymbals on top of an overloaded bass, and what sounds like every rhythm guitar in the world grinding away.
Reach the Beach is a significant step forward from the Fixx's debut album, Shuttered Room, simply because the band can now craft immediately accessible, incessantly catchy pop/rock melodies. "One Thing Leads to Another" has a big, ringing guitar hook hammered home by the dance beat, while "Saved by Zero" and "The Sign of Fire" are cool, robotic slices of synth pop. Although the rest of the album isn't quite as catchy as those three hits, Reach the Beach remains a pleasant collection of immaculately produced and stylishly danceable new wave.
A sequel of sorts to his earlier On the Beach, King of the Beach continues the laid-back mood of the earlier album but is (despite the goofy title) a more mature and unified work. It's one of his best albums and is a return to form after the film soundtrack La Passione and the more electronic sounds of The Road to Hell Part 2. Written primarily during a vacation in the Turks and Caicos Islands, it's replete with lots of beach and summer imagery in the titles ("King of the Beach," "All Summer Long," "Sandwriting," "Sail Away") as well as the lyrics, which were originally written as poems. A remix of "All Summer Long" was a big dance hit in Ibiza and other Mediterranean hot spots. A good album for a summer day, with a soulful mellowness flowing through the tracks.
Don't be fooled by the Bee Gees-esque cover photo, Love Beach is not really ELP gone pop. True, many of the songs are more concise and accessible than those on previous albums, and there are a couple of Greg Lake-dominated "romantic" tunes, but those had always been part of the deal. They're still classically rockin' along on "Canario," and half the album is dominated by the 20-minute epic "Memoirs of an Officer and a Gentleman," reminiscent of such long-form ELP classics as "Trilogy."
This was the album by which millions of sons of late baby boomers (and sons and daughters of the early ones) first really discovered the Beach Boys, beyond hearing the occasional oldie on the radio. It was the summer of 1974, and the Beach Boys were still trying to get themselves back on track commercially after a seven-year commercial dry spell, when this double LP of their 1963-1966 material (all but one cut pre-dating Pet Sounds) came along and did the job…